TRUCKEE, Calif. - California Highway Patrol recognized two local residents Wednesday with the highest of citizens awards, the Commissioner's Resolution, for their acts of bravery during a Jan. 9, 2012, accident on Highway 89.
William B. Nern, a Truckee resident, and Brian L. Bartlett, who lives across Bridge 11 on the Truckee River, responded shortly after a head-on collision occurred when the driver of a southbound vehicle allowed his Toyota Tacoma to cross over the double yellow line and hit a northbound Volkswagon Vanagon.
"I was shocked at the scene, and heard a lady scream," said Bartlett of his arrival at the accident. "I saw flames, and just kind of reacted."
Bartlett parked his vehicle and ran to the driver's door of the Vanagon. He saw flames in the engine compartment that were getting worse.
With the assistance of Sam Keiper (who will be honored also, when he and his family are in the area), he carried the driver out and placed her on the side of the road.
Nern was home at the time, across the Truckee River, and heard a massive explosion. "I told my wife to call 911, and jumped on my ATV and jammed down there," said Nern. "It was horrible."
Nern saw the Vanagon nearly engulfed in flames, with Keiper and Bartlett pulling the driver out. He returned to the Toyota driver, shielding himself from the flames with the truck's door.
Nern, Bartlett and Keiper with an unknown citizen obtained a tow chain and dragged the Toyota away from the van.
CHP Officer Morin, who responded at the scene, said, "I knew it was bad; the van was fully engulfed. We are thankful the citizens there got everyone out of the cars."
The Vanagon driver did not survive, however. The driver of the Toyota did.
"We (CHP) often arrive and there is a Good Samaritan already helping," said CHP Capt. Timothy Malone, commander of the Truckee office. "We're in awe when citizens put themselves in peril through selfless acts. It's amazing, just awesome."
"I'm honored to receive the award," said Bartlett. "It's a tragedy for the families, but I didn't think about it, I just reacted."
Nern and Bartlett said they hoped someone would do the same for them.
Both men received a framed copy of the Commissioner's Resolution, which ends by stating the men are "recognized, honored, and saluted for a superior act of bravery, committed without concern for his own safety, while assisting fellow citizens in peril."
"These individuals are extremely worthy of this award," said Malone.